Emily Meneses was awarded a full-ride scholarship called the National College Match Scholarship totaling approximately $74,000. She is the first graduate of St. Teresa’s High School to earn a full-ride scholarship to Notre Dame.

St. Teresa School student earns full ride to Notre Dame University

Originally Appeared in : Vol. 100 No. 04

Originally from South New Jersey, Emily Meneses and her family moved to Albany, GA, when she was 6 years old. A cradle Catholic, Meneses and her family became parishioners at St. Teresa’s Catholic Church and attended Mass regularly. One Sunday, they were flipping through the bulletin and saw an announcement stating that St. Teresa’s School, originally a K-8, was expanding and adding a high school.

Meneses had attended public school through the ninth grade, but after thoughtful consideration, she and her mother decided it would be best for her to begin her sophomore year at St. Teresa’s High School. Meneses said she was experiencing some things in the public school that weren’t good and that her life could have gone another direction had she not made the shift to the private, Catholic school.
Meneses excelled in her classes and said she immediately fell in love with life at St. Teresa’s High School primarily because it gave her the opportunity to further form and prioritize her faith. She also felt that the school allowed her to have a more intimate learning experience because there were only about 10 students in her class as opposed to 35 students packed into the classroom at the public school.
“It’s a good feeling to know your teachers are there for you and there to support you, guide you, and help every individual student’s needs,” said Meneses.
Many students have at least one teacher who leaves a lasting impact on their lives. For Meneses, that teacher has been Danielle DeMott, her Theology teacher.
“From the moment I stepped into her classroom, and because she was [teaching] Theology, you form a spiritual bond with her,” said Meneses. “For me, I guess you could say she’s like my spiritual director . . . she literally formed me into the faith because like I said I was going down some other path.”
Meneses said even the simplest questions from DeMott asking about her day, her family, and her church life had a significant impact on her faith formation. She said DeMott is “the epitome of caring and just taking the student/teacher relationship to the next level.”
During her Sophomore year, she competed at a regional science fair, won first place in the senior chemistry division for her project on “Temperature of Chemiluminescence” and received the Yale Science and Engineering award. In the summer between her sophomore and junior year, Meneses started a dual enrollment program at Albany State University. She graduated with an associate degree in December 2019.
Additionally, Meneses continues to be heavily involved in the church and Hispanic ministry where she has served as an altar server. She currently serves as a lector and as the Director of Altar Servers for Hispanic Ministry with the help of her mother.
“My faith means not only forming a relationship with God, but also with others . . . but most importantly, putting forth love, because God is love, and so my faith is my love towards everyone,” she said.
These accomplishments and her solid faith assisted Meneses in securing a spot at her dream school, but she also utilized the help of a non-profit program for low income, high achieving students called Questbridge.
Questbridge has partnerships with 42 Ivy League schools. Students first apply to the program, their applications are reviewed, finalists are selected, and if chosen, students choose up to 12 of the 42 schools and rank them based on preference.
As fate would have it, Meneses ranked Notre Dame second on her list and was accepted. She was awarded a full-ride scholarship called the National College Match Scholarship totaling approximately $74,000. She is the first graduate of St. Teresa’s High School to earn a full-ride scholarship to Notre Dame.
Before her senior year in June 2019, Meneses attended a retreat program at Notre Dame offered through the Diocese called Notre Dame Vision. She said that the experience was fun and informative, but also offered the opportunity to connect with God on a deeper level. Students stayed in the dorms, ate in the dining hall, toured campus, enjoyed praise and worship, heard testimonies, and participated in spiritual activities. After that trip, she knew she was where she was meant to be.
Meneses will graduate in May 2020 from St. Teresa’s High School and move to her new home of Notre Dame, Indiana on August 21, 2020. She plans to study Theology and a social science such as psychology or sociology. She’s also interested in a graduate career where she can become a social worker, psychologist, or professor so that she can give back.
When asked how she decided on her field of study, she said, “I love the faith and Mrs. DeMott inspired me . . . she went to study the same thing and she’s giving back by becoming a Theology teacher.”
“What I want to do is have that formation with me so that way when I start my own life, I have that . . . I can help out with whatever the parish needs and help with that formation for my future kids too,” she said.

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